Brett Favre has infamously only been knocked out once in his 20-year professional football career. The moment came on his very last play, capping off a record-breaking career with a devastating blow. However, it wasn’t his only concussion.
Losing consciousness is considered one of the trademark signs of a concussion, but loss-of-consciousness only occurs in approximately 10% of concussions. While Favre had relatively few documented concussions during his career, his own estimate of his brain injury history reflects the evolving understandings about concussions.
In a recent interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Favre suggested that “probably 90 percent” of the tackles he received in his career left him concussed. Considering he was tackled a record 525 times across 20 years (not including the tackles he endured in practices), that would be a massive number of brain injuries.
That incredible number of concussions may explain why Favre has committed himself to advocating for brain injury research, treatment, and prevention since his retirement in 2010.
“The athlete is getting bigger . . . faster . . . stronger, I don’t think that’s going to change,” Favre told the Sun-Times. “So the fact that we tackle and the hits are becoming more violent, I don’t see how the concussions will go down. At some point, we have to look at treatment. Prevention can only go so far.”
Favre says he hasn’t seen any signs of mental decline since he retired, but he remains absolutely 100 percent” concerned about his future health.
The former football star also made waves earlier this year when he told CBSSports.com’s Pick-Six Podcast that he would rather his grandsons choose a non-violent sport like golf over football:
“I have three grandsons — and people may wonder why a retired player would be so adamant about concussions and making the environment safer — I don’t know if they’ll play football. They’re eight [years], three [years] and several months old,” Favre said. “What little bit I know now — and it’s more than when I played — concussions [are] not good. And definitely not for a youth. And so, there is something out there that can make the environment safer, aside from helmets, and that is the surface. I think you have to look at the surface as an equal if not more important than the equipment you wear. …
“I’m not going to encourage them to play. I’m not going to discourage [them],” Favre said. “But I say this to everyone who will listen: if my grandsons were to say, and they call me Paw-Paw, if they were to say ‘Paw-Paw, will you be my caddy in golf, I think I’m going to do golf instead of football,’ I would be much more happy, satisfied and excited by that then by them playing football.
“Every tackle I would be cringing, hoping they get up and not shaking their head and saying they got a headache. But the likelihood of that happening by them playing football is very high. So I’d much rather them choose a safer route.”